The Why before the How
UPDATE: Things were looking up for MSSU in the fall of 2016. Our core funding had been increased by 4% and we received $2 million toward development of a UMKC dental school on campus. But on January 16, 2017, the new governor announced that we would experience cuts. He withheld our 4% increase in core funding, cut an additional 4% from our state appropriations, and withheld all remaining funding for the dental school. These cuts totaled $2.6 million. Then on February 3 the governor announced that his proposed budget for the new fiscal year would include another $4.3 million in cuts. This situation emphasizes the need to implement the Great Game of Education so we could begin minimizing the negative effects of these cuts.
As with any important strategy, implementing The Game requires change. And change can be difficult. Too often organizations jump right into how the change will happen rather than first communicating why the change is important. Simply put, ‘people get much more excited about the How when they clearly understand the Why.’ In order to effectively implement The Game, we need to build awareness and commitment to The Game and most importantly a desire to actively participate in the process. You can learn more about the why in the Learning Resources menu to the left.
In essence the "Why?" for MSSU is based on the fact that we are currently deficit spending which is non-sustainable. Our reserves are being depleted and we must turn things around to a positive cash flow. This is why our Critical Number is operating cash. We currently have about two months of reserves on hand and the state has been known to withhold an entire quarter's worth of appropriations. To see this history of our deficit spending and the depleting of operating cash, view the Critical Number link to the left and compare single months year-to-year.
The following charts tell more of the story, starting with our revenue history (explanations are below charts):
In 1972, state appropriations accounted for 68% of our revenue. In 2002, that proportion was down to 49%, but STILL significantly higher than tuition and fees. State appropriations remain below 50%, but there are other troubling trends (see below).
In 2011-2012, tuition and fees exceeded state appropriations for the fist time in university history. We are moving closer to a private school financial model, BUT, we have several factors that constrain our ability to increase revenue. First, we have a small endowment. Second, Senate Bill 389 (SB389) prevents us from raising our tuition more than the Consumer Price Index and inflation has been very low. So as the state continues to reduce funding, they are tying our hands to raise revenue to replace that funding by preventing us from raising our tuition. And our tuition is already among the lowest in the state. Another unintended consequence of SB389 is that we have to raise our tuition every year—even by the small amount permitted—to try to get ahead. Students obviously don't like to see that happen every year in spite of the small amount. And third, local demographics don’t call for large increases in HS grads. And we are still deficit spending. The University’s FY2015 budget called for a deficit of over $1 million. We are between a rock and a hard place.
This somewhat depressing graphic shows what Missouri spent on higher education in 2014 compared to our border states. It has not gotten any better...